From humble beginnings in the spare bedroom of a Merimbula rental, specialist environmental consultancy firm NGH Environmental has grown to encompass over 60 employees in seven offices throughout NSW, ACT and Queensland. The company was founded by director Nick Graham-Higgs in 1992. It provides environmental impact assessment, environmental management and town planning services to its clients, including local councils, private developers and significant state development and infrastructure projects.
The Bega team, which is the largest office and administrative hub with 15 staff, has recently moved to a new space at 89-91 Auckland Street, at the western end of the Auckland Plaza. After 15 years at their previous post in Carp Street, this move sees NGH in a larger and custom-renovated building with a colourful history – having started life as The Hideaway night club in the 1990s.
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When NGH acquired the building it had only one window and two glass doors. Some of the renovations included raising the ceiling, installing large north and west windows for natural light and views and splashed apple-green feature walls throughout. “Our new office has plenty of room to help us with our continued expansion,” Mr Graham-Higgs said. “We are very focused on continuing to operate and grow our Bega presence.”
What hasn’t changed is the quality of NGH’s professional services, which include specialist impact assessment, environmental management, town planning, biodiversity, historic and Aboriginal cultural heritage and contamination assessments. The organisation works on diverse projects ranging from land development, such as sub-divisions, transport infrastructure (road and rail), sewer and water infrastructure, along with electricity transmission and generation. Additionally NGH undertakes natural and cultural heritage assessments and community consultation. The early investigations can help shape the developments to be more environmentally sensitive to their location.
“Interestingly, 50 per cent of NGH’s work is undertaken in large-scale renewable energy development,” Mr Graham-Higgs said. “We have been working in the renewable energy sector since 1992, when we started working on projects for Snowy Hydro.
“Since then we have become the leading specialist environmental consultancy in NSW and Queensland. We provide assistance to solar, wind and hydro-electric developers. We help them develop projects which minimise environmental impacts in the design phase and manage them appropriately in the construction and operational phases.”
We are very focused on continuing to operate and grow our Bega presence.Nick Graham-Higgs, NGH Environmental
Snowy Hydro 2 is an exciting new project NGH is positioning itself to be a part of. “This project, like many NGH is focused on, is assisting us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and provide the transition to a low emission future,” Mr Graham-Higgs said. “NGH has focused on this area of expertise as we want to be a part of industry that is addressing and tackling issues relating to climate change for our future generations.”
As well as larger infrastructure projects, NGH remains committed to improving environmental outcomes at a local level. “Our earliest projects were in Kosciusko National Park, assisting resort upgrades in a fragile environment, with National Parks representatives,” Mr Graham-Higgs said. “We also provide assistance to the Bega, Snowy Monaro and Eurobodalla councils, for infrastructure development ... as well as assessing the value of their natural assets and providing environmental management advice.
“We have staff accredited under the new Biodiversity Offset Scheme, who can assess the value of setting up in-perpetuity vegetation offset areas that generate an income for management actions that improve biodiversity of the site.”